Public Support for Free Enterprise is Overwhelming

June 17, 2010

Americans prefer capitalism over socialism. A January 2010 Gallup poll surveyed respondents about their views on the two systems.  It found that 61 percent of Americans hold a positive view of capitalism while about the same percentage have a negative view of socialism.  The older the age group, the more negative the view of socialism.

Of course, capitalism and socialism are charged terms.  The choice of words may influence the results of a survey.

The results are even stronger using the term free markets.  In March 2009 the nonpartisan Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broad range of American demographic groups the following question: “Generally, do you think people are better off in a free market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time, or don’t you think so?” The results are decisive: Almost 70 percent of respondents agree that they are better off in a free market economy.  Only 20 percent disagree with the statement that America is better off with a free market economy.Free enterprise is even more popular than capitalism and free markets.

In the same Gallup poll mentioned above, a stunning 86 percent have a positive image of free enterprise.  Only 10 percent have a negative image.  Similarly, 84 percent have a positive image of entrepreneurs, while just 10 percent see them negatively.

In sum, no matter how the question is posed, less than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would be better off without free enterprise at the core of our system.